Art and Entertainment

Peter Kramer/AP
Actor Daniel Radcliffe

Can the Fury of Harry Potter Fans Sway Studio Execs?

September 09, 2008 01:50 PM
by Rachel Balik
Evidence suggests that the droves of Harry Potter fans expressing anger about the delay of the next Potter film might have an effect on the film’s release date.

Harry Potter Fans Fuming Over Delay of Sixth Movie

When Alan Horn, president of Warner Bros, announced that the studio would delay the release of the next Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” he began receiving death threats from overzealous fans. An online petition has been signed by 45,000 fans and the studio has been bombarded by angry letters and e-mails. “A lot of our fans live in a fantasy world that they share with hundreds of thousands of other people—so when some people get angry, they feed off each other,” Melissa Anelli, who runs a fan site and is author of “Harry, A History,” told the Wall Street Journal. The problem is that fans believe the studio is simply releasing the film later in effort to earn more money, and they feel personally offended. Although Harry Potter fans are certainly unique in their brand of fervor, there are precedents for fans changing studio’s minds.

Background: Fans with a Plan

In 2007, impassioned fans temporarily saved the TV show “Jericho,” by launching a full-fledged campaign against the network, CBS.  After CBS announced that the postapocalyptic drama would be canceled, fans were furious. Although the show had lost 23 percent of its viewers from fall to spring, CBS caved in to the demands of fans who sent letters, made phone calls and even had shipments of peanuts delivered. The network released a statement to fans via the Associated Press saying, “You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.” But it warned, “In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more ‘Jericho,’ we will need more viewers.” When they weren’t forthcoming, CBS canceled the show again.
Fan power was also in evidence for the 2006 movie “Snakes on a Plane”; enthusiasm for the film was so high prior to its release, that the studio made changes in response to fans’ requests. Unfortunately, the film failed to live up to the hype, and sank rapidly at the box office.

Perhaps one of viewers’ greatest success stories is the TV show “Family Guy,” which returned to network TV after tremendous DVD sales. Delighted fans celebrated at a performance called “Family Guy Live!” at Town Hall in New York City. The New York Times reported that the actors who were the voices behind the show’s characters couldn’t believe the overwhelming number of fans they had. Three years later, new episodes continue to air on Fox.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines